Late Fees, Termination and Nonpayment of Rent in California

Central Valley Rental Property – 3 Signs That Your Cash Flow Isn’t Really Passive

By RPM Central Valley

As a landlord in California you should be aware of the latest landlord tenant regulations and the rules regarding late fees, termination and nonpayment of rent in California because understanding the rules can mean the between success or failure when it comes to managing your portfolio of rental properties in the Central Valley.

It’s All about Your Lease

When it comes to rent rules in California your lease should spell out everything clearly for your tenants.

  • the amount of rent (there are limits to how much a landlord can charge under rent control ordinances in several cities in California)

  • where rent is due (such as by mail to the landlord’s business address)

  • when rent is due (including what happens if the rent due date falls on a weekend date or holiday)

  • how rent should be paid (usually check, money order, cash, and/or credit card)

  • the amount of notice landlords must provide to increase rent

  • the amount of any extra fee if your rent check bounces, and

  • The consequences of paying rent late, including late fees and termination of the tenancy.

State laws in California cover several of these rent-related issues, including limits on late fees, the amount of notice a landlord must provide to increase rent under a month-to-month tenancy, and how much time a tenant has to pay rent or move before a landlord can file for eviction. In addition, several cities in California have some form of rent control.

California Rules on Late Fees  

Rent is legally due on the date specified in your lease or rental agreement (usually the first of the month).  If you don’t pay rent when it is due, the landlord may begin charging you a late fee. Under California law, a late fee will be enforced only if the fee is a reasonable estimate of the amount that the lateness of the payment will cost the landlord, and if specified language is include in a written lease or rental agreement.

California Rules on Bounced Check Fees

California allows landlords to charge $25 for the first bounced check, and $35 for each additional bounced check.

Amount of Notice California Landlords Must Give Tenants to Increase Rent

California landlords must give tenants at least 30 days’ notice—unless the sum of this rent increase and all prior rent increases during the previous 12 months is more than 10% of the lowest rent charged during that time. In the latter case, the landlord must give the tenant 60 days’ notice.

Rent Increases as Retaliation or Discrimination

California landlords may not raise the rent in a discriminatory manner—for example, only for members of a certain race.  Also, California landlords may not use a rent increase in retaliation against you for exercising a legal right—for example, in response to your legitimate complaint to a local housing agency about a broken heater.

California State Laws on Termination for Nonpayment of Rent

States set specific rules and procedures for ending a tenancy when a tenant has not paid the rent. California landlords must give tenants at least three days in which to pay the rent or move. If the tenant does neither, the landlord can file for eviction.

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